Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Historical Nonsense, Unquestioned


Please leave us out of this.

This will fall on deaf ears, especially because the media is frightened to ask questions about religion. Anne Thompson of NBC News interviewed Senior Pastor Ken Peters of Patriot Church, located on the outskirts of Knoxville.  As the video below indicates, Peters remarks

This nation was founded on predominately Christian values by predominately Christian people. We just want to keep that in play. We just want to keep our roots alive and not let this reconstruction- this tearing up of our nation's rots and a new set of values is being pushed on us. It literally is.



Thompson could have asked either about whose values or what values Peter was referring to, about the Christian roots of the nation, or both.  She either asked about only the first or her inquiry about the second was edited out.

That's unfortunate (not surprising) because although a few of the Founding Fathers were orthodox Christians, most wee not. The vast majority were believers in, or affected by, Deism, which

inevitably subverted orthodox Christianity. Persons influenced by the movement had little reason to read the Bible, to pray, to attend church, or to participate in such rites as baptism, Holy Communion, and the laying on of hands (confirmation) by bishops. With the notable exceptions of Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison, Deism seems to have had little effect on women....

But Deistic thought was immensely popular in colleges from the middle of the 18th into the 19th century. Thus, it influenced many educated (as well as uneducated) males of the Revolutionary generation. Although such men would generally continue their public affiliation with Christianity after college, they might inwardly hold unorthodox religious views. Depending on the extent to which Americans of Christian background were influenced by Deism, their religious beliefs would fall into three categories: non-Christian Deism, Christian Deism, and orthodox Christianity....

If the nation owes much to the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is also indebted to Deism, a movement of reason and equality that influenced the Founding Fathers to embrace liberal political ideals remarkable for their time.

Unfortunately, whatever the interest of Deists in social justice, the U.S. Constitution did not outlaw slavery and by one reckoning, fourteen (14) of the Fathers owned slaves at one time and only seven (7) did not. The former group ran the gamut from George Washington to the relatively unknown Benjamin Rush. 

The claim by Reverend Peters that "this nation was founded on predominately Christian values by predominately Christian people" fails on either one or two grounds.  The preponderance of evidence indicates that most of those people either were not "Christian" as evangelists such as Peters defines them, generally as believers in Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. Alternatively, they were Christians, with the vast majority supportive, or at least accepting, of the ownership of other human beings.

Yet journalists routinely fail to challenge evangelicals to defend their notion of a Christian nation founded on Christian values. While the myth persists and is even reinforced, increasing numbers of young Americans learn that some of the heroes of colonial America owned slaves, un-Christian behavior indulged in primarily by secularists.

Reverend Peters and his ilk, inadvertently or otherwise, further the association of Christianity with the practice of slavery. Those of us who identify as Christians, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, must begin to denounce this dangerous distortion of American history. I won't hold my breath.

 


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